Houston QB Keenum undecided beyond knee surgery
Case Keenum limped into the team’s auditorium on crutches
Tuesday, a bulky brace protecting his mangled right knee.
The senior quarterback for Houston was closing in on several
NCAA career records when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament
trying to make a tackle during a 31-13 loss at UCLA on Sept. 18.
That came a week after he suffered a mild concussion in a victory
Keenum will undergo knee surgery on Wednesday, and he’s putting
off any decisions about his future beyond that. He hasn’t ruled out
trying to play one more season with the Cougars by asking the NCAA
for a medical exemption. Or, he could turn his sights to next
year’s NFL draft.
”No matter which way I go, I’m going to push to get healthy as
quickly as I can,” he said. ”It really doesn’t matter where I’m
playing. That’s not really the pressing issue right now. The
pressing issue is getting healthy.”
NFL draft consultant Gil Brandt said Keenum’s stock won’t drop
because of his injury, as long as doctors clear him in time for
next year’s combine. And Brandt is confident that Keenum would get
selected if he comes out.
”Obviously, the guy has something going for him,” Brandt said.
”Is he going to become a great player? I don’t think so. But I do
think he has the traits that lead to success, and I think he could
possibly do it.”
One of the big lures for Keenum returning to school is the
chance of becoming the NCAA’s most prolific all-time passer.
He has 13,586 yards passing with 107 touchdown throws. He’s the
fifth-leading passer in Division I-A history and needs 3,487 yards
to eclipse Tim Chang’s all-time career mark (17,072). He’s 28 TD
passes shy of moving past Graham Harrell’s career record (134).
Houston coach Kevin Sumlin has tried to give Keenum as much
information as possible as he mulls his options. Sumlin added that
he’s told Keenum to make a decision only for himself, and not
factor in how it will impact the team.
”In these conversations, you have to be very open and very
blunt,” Sumlin said. ”He has done so much for this program and
for the University of Houston. I told him, ‘Don’t worry about that.
You don’t owe us anything. This decision needs to be based on
what’s best for you.”’
Keenum says he’s been inundated with calls and text messages
from friends and family, from youth pastors to former coaches to
players who’ve suffered the same sort of knee injury. Among them
was Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin, who tore his right ACL in
the third game of the 2009 season, underwent reconstructive surgery
and is playing again this season.
”He had some great words of encouragement,” Keenum said,
”just kind of giving me a heads up of what’s coming, how to
approach rehab and how to come back stronger. He obviously did, and
I plan on doing the same thing.”
Keenum said he just finished reading Drew Brees’ book, ‘Coming
Back Stronger,’ and thinks he’ll read it again as he goes through
his tedious rehabilitation. Brees had shoulder surgery after the
2005 season, joined the New Orleans Saints and led the team to a
Super Bowl win last season.
”He talks about coming back stronger, that adversity is
opportunity,” Keenum said. ”Obviously, I’m going to push as hard
as I can, where I’m allowed to push. You see guys all over the
country, in all different sports coming back from injuries.
”It’s just kind of depends on the person, it depends on how
tough you are,” he said. ”I’m going to see how tough I am. It’s
going to be a challenge, but I’m going to get through it